Golden Full Moon in Soho

From Golders Green I travelled on to Soho and started to look and listen for the Hare Krishna procession to mark the Gaura Purnima festival. Around 500 years ago in West Bengal, Krishna put in an appearance as the Lord Caitanya, and encouraged everyone to chant and sing the name of Krishna. The practice came to London and other western cities in the 1960s with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and became a part of hippie culture (if not usually lifestyle.)

I finally heard the sounds as I walked up Regent Street close to Oxford Circus, and turned the corner to see the procession with dancers, musicians and a large chariot pulled by people on ropes coming along Oxford Street.

Regent St

Although you can’t normally photograph sounds, the noisiest parts of processions – and demonstrations – are often visually the more interesting too. People simply walking are less interesting than people dancing or playing musical instruments.


I photographed the procession as it went down Regent Street and past Piccadilly Circus, where a clash of culture appeared between religion and the Mammon of the billboards , and on to Leicester Square.

The procession stopped here for a little ceremony and a short sermon. I watched as incense was burned, and flowers passed reverently around and their fragrance savoured.

I left them still chanting in the square and went to the pub, despite an invitation to join them in the meal at which they would break their fast. I’d had my sandwiches on the underground on the way to the event, and didn’t feel too attracted to a lifestyle that means giving up on alcohol, caffeine, meat, fish, eggs, onions and garlic, mushrooms and sex (apparently allowed only for the purpose of procreation within marriage.)

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